Passage 25 – Whiterock Mesa
March 15, 2017
ATA’s effort to remove the trail from roads has quite the target in Passage 25. Five-and-a-half miles of the passage fall on two-track, county road and powerline road. It has long been a “someday” project to cut across Rock Creek and shorten the trail as well as remove it from the roads; at a recent meeting the board decided “someday” was getting closer.
After countless hours poring over maps a seemingly feasible concept route emerged. The next step was to walk the route to see if there are any conditions fatal to the idea. Roger, Bruce, Lance and Shawn met up in Pine and made their way to the powerline road where the route would head west. It was a great day for exploring with sunshine and pleasant temperatures.
The crew made good time to the drop into Rock Creek. Expansive views of totally undisturbed country were the first reward. Another was a set of pictographs chipped into the rock – any future trail will give them a wide berth. While clearly there are challenges to be overcome, no fatal flaws emerged. The drop into Rock Creek is steep but the trail can be benched, and eventually it connects to what the crew felt were remnants of a trail. A horseshoe and cairn, as well as what could easily be an overgrown path, were convincing evidence that others had gone this way.
Following lunch along a steep side drainage everyone agreed it was time to head back; the west side of Rock Creek can be explored another day. Building a trail through the Wilderness is challenging but clearly possible. Just when and how is to be determined.